United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
TAX REFUND CONSPIRATOR SENTENCED TO PRISON AND ORDERED TO PAY $12,342,117 RESTITUTION Defendant Previously Pled Guilty in Connection With Tax Fraud Conspiracy CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Lincolnton man was sentenced today for his involvement in a large scale tax refund fraud scheme, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced Harold Gonzalez Roque, 30, of Lincolnton, N.C., to serve 72 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Cogburn also ordered Roque to pay $12,342,117 as restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Anne M. Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Kay B. Jernigan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Special Agent in Charge Russell F. Nelson of U.S. Secret Service (USSS), and Chief Tim Adams of the Gastonia Police Department.
According to the official court record, Roque and his co-conspirators used stolen identities and social security numbers of residents of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to file fraudulent tax returns claiming tax refunds. The fraudsters specifically targeted this group because residents of Puerto Rico whose income derives solely from Puerto Rican sources are generally not required to file federal tax returns with the IRS. These fraudulent returns then caused the Treasury Department to mail false tax refund checks to various addresses throughout New York, North Carolina and elsewhere. The addresses listed on the fraudulent returns were sometimes clustered, for example a large number of addresses were in the same apartment building. Participants in the scheme then used fake identification documents to cash the fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.
The tax fraud conspiracy was carried out, in part, locally at money service businesses in Lincolnton and Gastonia, N.C. According to information brought before the court at today’s sentencing hearing, the defendant and his co-conspirators participated in this tax refund conspiracy beginning in January 2008. From January 2008 until mid-November 2008, the defendant and others were able to successfully obtain $12 million by cashing fraudulent tax refund checks through money service businesses in North Carolina.
To date, four other defendants have received prison terms and were ordered to pay restitution to IRS in the amount of $12,342,117 in connection with this scheme:
• Jose Peralta - 98 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.
• Miguel Loria - 63 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.
• Richard Valera - 47 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.
• Marino Martinez - 40 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.
Roque previously pled guilty to two counts of tax fraud conspiracy. He has been in local federal custody since he was arrested in August 2010. Upon designation of a federal facility he will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. The investigation was handled by IRS, USPIS, USSS, and the Gastonia Police Department. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark T. Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.